Living without the most common end-of-life regrets

Dec 22, 2011

After a relatively long resistance to social media, I have to admit, I’m warming up to it. Not daily, but often I run across amazing gems—writings that motivate me, pictures that inspire me, quotes, and really just plain good stories. At the end of each year, the usual “top x” lists are bandied about, most of which I tend to skim or ignore. But today, I came across the “Top Five Regrets of The Dying” on Activist Post, by Bronnie Ware, a caretaker of patients during their last three to twelve weeks of life. THAT caught my attention!  She writes:

“People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.”

This excerpt felt huge to me. I don’t walk around dreading of fearing death like some (I hope I’m not just in denial), but I do worry that many people die unhappy, with too many regrets. It seems my fears may be unfounded. Here is the condensed version of Ware’s description of the most common regrets, or things she’s heard people say they would do differently:

1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself . . . not the life others expected of me . . . while I was still healthy and able to fulfill some of my dreams.

2.  I wish I didn’t work so hard . . . lived more simply and connected more with my family members.

3.  I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings . . . learned to be more honest with myself and others.

4.  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends . . .  realized the benefits of connected friendships earlier. “It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end.”

5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier, sooner realized that happiness is a choice, cared less about what others think, broken old patterns and habits, embraced laughter and silliness, and not feared change.

As part of my coaching practice, I resolve to help myself and my clients avoid such regrets, or more specifically, to live a life true to myself; not prioritize work over connecting with family and friends, be honest to myself and with others, and choose for happiness and well-being over all other things I think others expect from me.



Thank you Todd Montgomery for posting this on Facebook.

Thank you especially to my closest friend, Michael Hanson. He has known the contents of this blog post for most of his life, and teaches it to others by attempting to model living-without-regrets every day.

Cara Crisler
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1 Comment. Leave new

Todd Montgomery (@tmconsultancy)
December 22, 2011 11:09 am

Thanks Cara – love your writing here and glad to be able to share an article that I found especially poignant and meaningful. All the best to you and your family for the holidays!


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